For the past 20 years, the John A. Hartford Foundation has proudly supported programs that advance our mission to improve the health of older Americans. The majority of our grants have been academic efforts to grow gero-expert faculty in medicine, nursing, and social work and position them in the classroom to teach the next generation of health care providers to be competent to care for older adults.
Our Hartford Center at the University of California, one of our eight funded nursing centers, has been a strong exemplar of this work. UCSF’s center has prepared many new faculty with geriatrics expertise who are now educating future nurses and producing the research that will deliver quality care to older adults. In doing this work, UCSF’s center has partnered with colleagues outside of nursing, other academic institutions, the practice environment, and community organizations extending the reach of the Hartford Center beyond the walls of their School of Nursing.
While programs like our Hartford Centers have accomplished much, two years ago, the Hartford Foundation began a strategic planning process. This was inspired by two realities: 1) In 2011, the first of the baby boomers turned 65 and every day 10,000 Americans celebrate their 65th birthday, and 2) there are many new federal opportunities to advance our mission. Hartford, therefore, will be transitioning from our signature faculty development efforts and launching programs that focus on the practice environment. New areas of funding include: Leadership in Action, Interprofessional Education and Practice, Quality Tools and Measures, Communication and Policy, and Models of Care (Continued on page 5).
Our intent with this transition is to build on our strengths—the experience and expertise of those we have funded for the past 20 years. Therefore, many of our new practice-driven initiatives will weave in the people and products produced by Hartford programs. For more information, please see our blog www.jhartfound.org with new posts every Tuesday and Thursday.
Over the next three years, Hartford will be sunsetting many of the accomplished programs—like the Hartford Centers in Geriatric Nursing—that have been instrumental in establishing the Hartford “Gold Standard” in quality care for older adults. During this time, we are working closely with our grantees to specifically define their unique contribution to the field and how this work can be sustained post Hartford. We know that the Hartford Centers have recruited hundreds of nurses to the field of aging, provided countless hours of mentoring, produced the evidence base research that is being brought to the bedside, and have acted as catalysts in their communities to bring local providers and academics together. In December 2013, we made a final renewal to our eight Hartford Centers of Excellence in Geriatric Nursing and their coordinating center at the Gerontological Society of America. In this final renewal, the centers collectively agreed to pool their expertise and resources to create a collaborative entity known as the National Hartford Centers of Gerontological Nursing Excellence who will work to advance geriatric nursing capacity through schools of nursing across the country.
While we at Hartford could not be more excited about this pioneering new model, we recognize the work of the individual centers in their regions, states, communities, institutions, and schools of nursing is far from done. We encourage our centers, like UCSF, to think strategically about their future and work to sustain their core efforts to improve the health of older adults. We need new partners in this work. UCSF and its sister Centers are vital in addressing the long term needs of the growing population of older adults. We welcome conversation.